Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Seven held after 'mafia attempt' to buy Lazio

Italian police arrested seven people, allegedly part of an organised crime group that tried to buy Lazio with laundered money.

Three people were still at large in an investigation that targeted nine Italians and a Hungarian, who tried to acquire the club with money coming from the illicit activities of the Casalesi clan, a branch of the Naples-based Camorra crime syndicate, police in Rome said.

Among those still being sought was the former Italy and Lazio striker Giorgio Chinaglia, who is believed to have moved to the US two years ago when authorities ordered his arrest on charges of extortion and insider trading at Lazio.

Chinaglia, who helped the capital club win their first Serie A title in 1974 and later became the club's President, is accused of trying to influence the price of Lazio shares, prosecutors said in 2006.

He allegedly tried to oust the current club President, Claudio Lotito, by falsely claiming that there was a Hungarian investment group interested in buying a controlling stake in the club. Lazio shares are traded on the Milan stock exchange.

At the time, Chinaglia gave interviews to Italian media denying any wrongdoing. The latest arrest warrant adds a charge of money laundering to the previous accusations.

Police said the investigation that stemmed from the 2006 inquiry, and culminated in the latest arrests, showed that the money for the planned takeover came from Casalesi gangsters who tried to launder it via transfers through foreign banks.

Source: Associated Press

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